ScoutingMay-June 2002

Letters Letters

Sept. 11 profiles in courage

I would like to tell the readers of Scouting magazine about two Scouters from our council who perished in the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11, 2001.

Salvatore Gitto, an Eagle Scout from Brooklyn, N.Y., was a Webelos Scout leader in Pack 536, Manalapan, N.J. A senior vice president at Marsh and McLennan, he was the husband of Angela and father of Gregory and Stephen. Sal became re-involved in Scouting with his son, Gregory, and served not only as den leader but also as assistant committee chairman and advancement coordinator for the pack. Lovingly called "Mr. Fix-It" by family and friends, he enjoyed flying planes (he had been a licensed pilot since age 17) and had served as an assistant Little League coach for the past three years.

In memory of Sal, the Gregory and Stephen Gitto Education Fund has been established.

Stephen J. Fiorelli was an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 66, Matawan, N.J., and previously a den leader in Pack 66. He was husband to Theresa and father to Stephen Jr. and Christine. An avid outdoorsman who loved to camp with the troop, he was a role model who lived the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life. An engineer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he would take time on camping trips to talk to the Scouts about engineering as a profession.

Steve worked on the 64th floor of the World Trade Center. After the first plane hit, he directed others to leave the floor and assisted in placing wet towels under the doors to keep the smoke out. An expert in fire safety, Steve took charge of the situation, which had always been his nature. He telephoned his wife, Theresa, and, as also was his nature, joked that he was going to be O.K. and not to worry.

Steve and 16 other employees then linked hands and started down the stairway. They had reached the 22nd floor when the building collapsed. Steve's body was found in the rubble a few days later.

Scoutmaster Robert Shea of Troop 66 said: "Steve was respected, admired, and loved by many Scouts...This has been a devastating loss to the troop and to Scouting. Steve's energy, enthusiasm, humor, and smile cannot be replaced."

Matt Thornton
Scout Executive, Monmouth Council
Oakhurst, N.J.

A special thank-you to the BSA

Virginia Jacko and her guide dog, Tracker, are now a team, thanks to Mike Brisson's Eagle Scout project.
Photograph courtesy of Guiding Eyes for the Blind

I want to thank the Boy Scouts of America for involving youth in service projects that can dramatically influence everyday living for people with visual disabilities.

For his Eagle Scout project, Mike Brisson of Troop 31, Schenectady, N.Y., participated in a puppy-raising program run by Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Mike raised and trained Tracker, a yellow Labrador retriever, for me, a blind person seeking greater mobility and independence.

As part of the training, Mike's Scout troop took the dog on trips to acquaint it with situations a blind person could encounter, such as using the train or shopping at a supermarket.

When Tracker and I graduated as a guide-dog team, we were one of some 160 teams each year that benefit from the services of Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Mike's Eagle Scout experience has changed my life. Because of Tracker, I can go to the grocery store, take walks in my neighborhood, engage in physical fitness activities, visit my children around the country, and go to church.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind has more than 500 volunteers from North Carolina to Maine. Individuals like Mike, and their families, nurture the pups and establish the loving human bond that is the foundation for their role as guide dogs. You can learn more about the puppy-raising program at

Virginia A. Jacko
West Lafayette, Ind.

Another World War II friendship

The Way It Was column in the January-February issue brought to mind similar experiences that I had in the years 1942 to 1944. I was the administrator of a Presbyterian children's home, and some of our older boys and girls helped church people assist the Japanese-Americans interned at a center about 30 miles from Monticello, Ark.

I was 33 years old and had been in Scouting since 1922 (I am now 91). Our Scouts' experience in shared activities with Boy Scouts in the center was similar to those described by Senator Alan Simpson [in the January-February column], including his becoming friends with future U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

One youngster, Daniel Ogata, became a lifelong friend of mine and later a Presbyterian minister. When they were interned, his family had to leave a house and business in California; after release, they found the house ransacked and their business and community gone. They had to start over with almost nothing.

The marvelous part to me was that I saw very little resentment at the time [among the internees] or in later conversations with Daniel.

I did see a lot of industriousness by the internees. I was amazed at how the men dug ditches by hand to drain the center's swampy location and then used the mud to build up areas for vegetable gardens.

The Rev. Edwin E. Hancock
Unit Commissioner
Washington, Iowa

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